Readers’ wildlife photographs

We have photos from two disparate groups today. First, three diving ducks from reader Barbara Wilson:

Both the Goldeneye [Bucephala clangula, shown in the first picture] and the Surf Scoter are diving ducks.  The Surf Scoter is probably the most commonly seen duck that’s visible from land on the Oregon coast.



Young Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) on the bay at Newport, Oregon, December 13.  Not a great photo, but my pictures of young males starting to get the colorful bill were worse.


And, changing gears, a larva, with the caterpillar photos and videos by reader Glenn Butler:

I planted some spicebush (Lindera benzoin) in my back yard and was richly rewarded with the remarkable spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus). The early instars resemble bird droppings, but as the caterpillar grows larger, it disguises itself as a snake. I imagine that those eyespots must be fairly frightening if you’re a feathered predator. It also uses silk to create a leaf shelter for protection and will amazingly mimic a snake’s forked and flicking tongue when disturbed.


Here’s the adult (photo from Wikipedia):


I’m sending four short videos separately showing a time lapse retreat into a leaf shelter, the caterpillar feeding, and the astounding flicking tongue mimicry.

The time-lapse retreat:


  1. GBJames
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Very cool videos!

  2. Greg Z.
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Very cool swallowtail videos. The “flicking tongue” is the osmeterium, an eversible defensive gland found in the prothorax of papilionids. When threatened, the caterpillar everts the gland, which has an offensive odor. A double defense, a bad smell and a fake snake tongue.

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Very interesting. I am not sure if I have seen one of these, since the adults resemble the black swallowtail. They also resemble the well known pipevine swallowtail, which is non-palatable, and so that is a case of Batesian mimicry.

  4. Diane G.
    Posted December 26, 2016 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Nice ducks, Barbara!

    Love the swallowtail larva vids! The time-lapse retreat is a riot! 😀

%d bloggers like this: